Most states in Africa, due to their unique history of state formation, do not satisfy the established (western-centric) pre-requisites of statehood. This incongruity results in Africa being framed as a place of fragile states with African agency discounted in the process. The discourse on state fragility is instrumental in insidiously granting legitimacy for western governmental interventions in Africa. Meanwhile, the resulting reception of international aid and security assistance by African governments has produced an increasingly popular claim: African states have lost the autonomy to determine their affairs. An important aim of this paper is to challenge this assumption and re-insert African agency into the discussion by revealing how African state-elites have made strategic appeals to notions of African weakness and state fragility to convince donors to finance their governments and assist in the elimination of rivals for continuing their (sometimes) illiberal rule. Subsequently, speeches, interviews, newspaper articles and donor reports from Uganda will be subject to critical discourse analysis (CDA) to demonstrate this point. On a theoretical plane, studying how African actors’ interactions with discursive structures have granted them room for agency, a dialectical position is taken in understanding the structure-agency debate.
Key words: Africa, agency, fragile states, discourses, Uganda.